T.H.E. Show Newport 2012

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Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 1 comments
In the more extensive of its two set-ups, Emotiva produced lovely, welcomingly smooth sound. Although bass control was elusive, as it was for many systems in these small "sleeping rooms" at the Hilton, the system's impressive clarity on top and nice tonality confirmed its reputation as a bargain bonanza. Playing were the XRT 6.2 tower loudspeakers ($699/pair), XPA-1 monoblock amplifiers ($999/each), XSP-1 stereo preamplifier ($899), ERC-2 CD player ($449), and XDA-2 Reference DAC ($399). Watch for Bob Reina's rave review of Emotiva's smaller XRT-5.2 towers in the August issue of Stereophile.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
Dynamic Sound Systems of Carlsbad, CA demmed bi-amped Plinius 310Wpc stereo amplifiers ($10,300 each), Plinius stereo preamplifier ($11,350 line, $12,500 phono), and Plinius Tiki DLNA compatible Digital Audio Renderer ($4775) in a system that also included the PMC IB2 three-way loudspeaker ($18,490/pair), and Analysis Plus Oval 9 speaker cables as well as Solo Crystal interconnects and Power Oval 2 power cables.

On tracks from Nils Lofgren and Vivaldi, I found the sound solid and dynamic, but also hard, and opaque, perhaps due to the sub-optimal room acoustics. Yes, traps had been used in the corners of this room, but an exhibitor at a Show is always at the mercy of whichever room they have been allocated.

Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
It may seem strange to introduce a huge show report—actually my final blog, since, in time-honored biblical fashion, the last shall always be first in the blogisphere —with a photo of a Bentley Mulsanne (over $400,000). But inside this gorgeously outfitted automobile, a machine that even closes its doors for you should you be too occupied trading stocks via iPhone to pull the handle, is a custom-enhanced sound system by Reus Systems of Orange. (It was part of the exotic car exhibition that was part of T.H.E. Show.)
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
One of my favorite visits at T.H.E. Show was to the Tannoy/Cary/Synergistic Room sponsored by The Home Theater Experience of Carlsbad, CA. As luck would have it, 40-year industry veteran Tony Weber, a sound engineer on many of Delos' early recordings and currently Regional Sale Manager for Cary Audio, was at the helm.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 2 comments
Eric Hudgins' Tailored Technologies of Santa Clara, CA somehow packed a lot of equipment and sound into a small space. Audreal's PA-80 class-A amplifier ($5995), XA-3200 preamplifier ($1899), and LP-2 phono stage ($1295) were brightening up the room with the SoTM DAC 200HD ($2200) and server ($2200) and the new version of Volent VL-3 Mk.II loudspeakers ($11,000). The turntable was the Clearaudio Ovation ($5500) with MC cartridge ($800).
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 09, 2012 1 comments
I still remember the chills that ran down my spine when I saw the band Rufus, with a young, slim Chaka Khan, performing "Tell Me Something Good" at a small English club more years ago than I care to recall. So when I went into the smaller MBL room at the Irvine Hilton and Jeremy Bryan started playing a live version of the same song, I got a similar thrill.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 1 comments
For audiophiles who may remember Legend Audio and their fascinating water-cooled amps, they have changed their name to Von Gaylord, and moved from Berkeley, CA to West Sacramento. Their sound has gotten even better in the process: lovely, warm, and refreshingly sweet, with eye and ear-opening sound staging, set far behind the speakers, and inviting air around images.
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
In their second room, Anaheim retailer Scott Walker Audio was showing Magico's Q3 floorstander ($38,950/pair) with the Soulution 700 monoblock amplifiers, hooked with Synergistic's cumbersome spaced-conductor speaker cable. Source was a Soulution 540 SACD player and a Soulution 700-series preamp. The Q3 was launched at the 2011 CES. A smaller derivative of the Q that Michael Fremer positively reviewed for Stereophile in November 2010, the Q3 uses the same proprietary beryllium-dome tweeter as the Q5 in the same type of space-frame enclosure, with a 6" Nano-tec midrange unit. The lower woofers roll off earlier than the upper one, to optimize the crossover to the midrange unit. Frequency response is specified as 20Hz–50kHz, sensitivity as 90dB, and impedance as 5 ohms.
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
I don't have much to say about the sound in this room, produced by Vandersteen Model 7 speakers ($50.000/pair) driven by Audio Research Ref 250 tubed monoblocks ($20,000/pair) and an Audio Research Ref 5SE preamp, wired with AudioQuest cables, other than it was simply one of my best sounds at the Newport Beach Show (the others being the Magico S5 and the MBL 101E Mk.II, with the Wisdom LS4 and Luxman-driven YG Anat II Studio not far behind).

Source was a Basis Inspiration turntable and arm fitted with a Lyra Atlas cartridge—the complex mix at the end of Blood Sweat & Tears' "Spinning Wheel," played on an acetate cut by Bernie Grundman, where treble recorders contrast with the brass, was untangled in a most effective manner but without any spotlighting.

John Atkinson Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
Turning the bits into music in the Channel D room was this $2495 standalone D/A converter, the Hilo from high-end soundcard manufacturer Lynx. Offering USB2.0, ADAT, S/PDIF, and AES/EBU inputs, the Hilo features a 4.3" LCD touchscreen to allow navigation of its menu system as well as, when the music is playing, a choice of peak bargraph or VU meters, as shown here. The Hilo supports 24-bit word lengths and sample rates up to 192kHz and can be used with both Windows machines and Macs.
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
Whether they be Quads or Staxes, Roger Sanders' designs, or MartinLogans, electrostatic speakers generate passionate advocates. Retailer Digital Ear was demming the enormous Martin-Logan CLX speakers ($25,500/pair) in a huge ballroom in the Atrium hotel, along with two MartinLogan Depthi subwoofers, driving them with McIntosh MC601 monoblocks, a McIntosh C50 D/A preamp and a Meridian-Sooloos server, all hooked up with Transparent cable. The CLX's curvilinear section operates above 360Hz, meaning that all the harmonics of the music and the upper fundamentals are not interrupted by a crossover. Unlike Jason Serinus, I love Diana Krall's music making, so I requested a track from her Live in Paris album. Despite the size of the room, her version of Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are" was reproduced with Ms. Krall's voice palpably hanging in the center of the stage.
Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 2 comments
"Whoa!" said self to self upon entering the KT Audio Imports room. This display is so dazzling, how can I begin to take it all in?

Arrayed before me were the Triangle Art Referent turntable ($13,990); GamuT CD3 ($6500); NAT Audio Magma 160W amplifiers ($45,000/pair), Symmetrical dual balanced preamplifier ($8700), Signature battery phono stage ($7800); Eventus Audio Nebula loudspeakers ($65,000/pair), and Wireworld cabling. Not playing were the Triangle Art Signature turntable ($9990), NAT Single Integrated ($7800), and NAT Magnastotat battery preamplifier ($17,490). Some of this, as well as two other Eventus loudspeakers, was off to the side.

Jason Victor Serinus Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
One of my fondest memories of a past CES was sitting with John Atkinson at T.H.E. Show, playing a track from one of his superb recordings of Cantus on an all-out darTZeel /Evolution Acoustics system from Jonathan Tinn's Blue Light Audio. Here, on more modest speakers and electronics, I was again blown away, this time by the fabulous soundstage height, three-dimensionality, and realistic depiction of horns and cymbals on Michael Tilson Thomas' recording of Mahler's Symphony 3.
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 09, 2012 0 comments
Empirical Audio's Steve Nugent was showing three new products in the Atrium Hotel, demmed with the TAD E1 speakers that had impressed me in the TAD room at the Hilton, driven by Parasound Halo JC 1 monoblocks. Steve is pointing to the two-box Overdrive SE DAC ($5999), which has BNC, S/PDIF, asynchronous USB, and i2S data inputs, and a volume control, making it "all you need for computer audio." There is now an Off-Ramp 5 asynchronous USB converter ($1299), which now has HDMI in addition to S/PDIF and i2S outputs and replaces the Off-Ramp 4 that I very favorably reviewed in December 2011. The third new Empirical product is the Synchro-Mesh reclocker ($599), which dejitters the datastream for a source such as an Apple TV, Squeezebox, or CD transport.
John Atkinson Posted: Jun 08, 2012 0 comments
John McDonald’s Audience company has developed a range of speakers using a proprietary 3” cone driver to cover the complete audio range. The flagship Clairaudient 16+16 ($72,000/pair) made its debut at the Newport Beach Show. Each Clairaudient 16+16 uses 16 of the latest-generation drivers firing to the front and another 16 to the back, and is specified to be flat to 30Hz.

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